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Meet Gabe Bartalos and June Miklos of Atlantic West Effects in Sun Valley

Today we’d like to introduce you to Gabe Bartalos and June Miklos.

Gabe and June, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
Having an early fascination with film, art and monsters, I began combining all of these through making my own Super-8 horror films. These short films made with the neighborhood kids in the starring roles allowed me to create make-up effects through artwork and have them be dedicated to film – it was perfect!

In the early eighties, there was an explosion of make-up effects in modern horror movies – the sky was the limit. Leading the pack was the incredible work of FX artist Rick Baker. This so impressed me I narrowed my artistic endeavors to specialize in that – Special Make-Up Effects.

At 19 years old I left NY for LA and had the great fortune of finding work as an effects artist quickly. This led to a string of amazing collaborations: Directors Frank Henenlotter and Stuart Gordon, Artists Matthew Barney and Doug Aitken, and even full circle by working for Rick Baker on “Gorillas In The Mist”, “Coming To America”, “Gremlins 2” and Michael Jacksons’ “Moonwalker” – a magical time.

I incorporated my own studio in 1990 – Atlantic West Effects, and as my studio has grown more successful, I found myself creeping back to my initial spark – making films.

In 1995 I make a seven-minute film in 16 mm called “In The Pool of Darkness”. I was curious to tell a high energy short story and see what the film medium looked like at this time. This led to my first feature film “Skinned Deep” that was released in 2004.

Then recently – May of this year 2019, my second film as Writer, Director has been released by Severin Films is the surrealistic “Saint Bernard”. A hallucinogenic mosaic of textures, elements and distant locations wrapped up in heavy symbolism and metaphors with a dream-logic narrative that balances it between dark reality and fantasy.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
With any path taken, there will be bumps in the road. But the fortunate thing about making a career out of something that is a genuine passion is you just roll with them. In fact, I could say that the more friction one encounters may be the clearest indication that it is the right path to take – nothing really cool comes easy.

Please tell us more about your work. What do you guys do? What do you specialize in? What sets you apart from competition?
Atlantic West Effects is a full-service Make-Up Effects and Creature shop. I specialize in delivering iconic and memorable creatures and effects for the motion picture industry.

The process begins with me reading the script and then unleashing my imagination. I will create sketches or sculptural maquettes to introduce my designs.

Then we move into the actual production of the creature. This is an important stage, the sculpture. Here all the ‘architectural’ details are committed. Then through a process of Mold Making, Foam and Silicone fabrication and the wonderful world of cosmetics – Make-Up, Paint, Hair, Acrylic Teeth, Urethane Eyes the final creature comes to life and is readied for its shooting days.

Much of my work is for horror films. In the movie theatre, I would watch as one of my gory fx happened, then the audience would shriek and cover their eyes. At first, like everybody, I thought ‘mission accomplished’. But then I began to realize that this packed theatre house just missed my effect that I worked three months on – because they covered their eyes – suddenly it did not make sense to me.

So I thought to push myself and really embrace my love of surrealism to create effects that satisfy the emotional ‘punchline’ needed in the scene, but achieve it in a manner that not only kept the audience staring at the screen – but actually leaned closer and mumble something to the effect of’ “Wow…I’ve never seen that before, that was cool!!!!”

Any shoutouts? Who else deserves credit in this story – who has played a meaningful role?
Seven-time Academy Award winner Rick Baker – celebrated for his amazing career in Make-Up Effects, now retired has – had all forms of accolades bestowed upon him, deservingly.

But really the biggest compliment I can give to him is that once I had the good fortune to work side by side with him, he surpassed my wildest expectations and imagination with his talent and then complimented it with his good nature. He remains to me the ‘gold standard’ in the make-up effects industry.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Photos 3-8: Tracy Birdsell

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